Aerobic exercise training without weight loss reduces dyspnea on exertion in obese women

Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2016 Jan 15:221:64-70. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2015.11.004. Epub 2015 Nov 28.


Dyspnea on exertion (DOE) is a common symptom in obesity. We investigated whether aerobic exercise training without weight loss could reduce DOE. Twenty-two otherwise healthy obese women participated in a 12-week supervised aerobic exercise training program, exercising 30 min/day at 70-80% heart rate reserve, 4 days/week. Subjects were grouped based on their Ratings of Perceived Breathlessness (RPB) during constant load 60 W cycling: +DOE (n=12, RPB≥4, 37±7 years, 34±4 kg/m(2)) and -DOE (n=10, RPB≤2, 32±6 years, 33±3 kg/m(2)). No significant differences between the groups in body composition, pulmonary function, or cardiorespiratory fitness were observed pre-training. Post-training,peak was improved significantly in both groups (+DOE: 12±7, -DOE: 14±8%). RPB was significantly decreased in the +DOE (4.7±1.0-2.5±1.0) and remained low in the -DOE group (1.2±0.6-1.3±1.0) (interaction p<0.001). The reduction in RPB was not significantly correlated with the improvement in cardiorespiratory fitness. Aerobic exercise training improved cardiorespiratory fitness and DOE and thus appears to be an effective treatment for DOE in obese women.

Keywords: Breathlessness; Cardiorespiratory fitness; Exercise; Obesity; Shortness of breath.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Composition
  • Dyspnea / etiology*
  • Dyspnea / rehabilitation*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / rehabilitation
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Physiological Phenomena
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss / physiology